Q+A with Pryor Cashman Partners Stephen Goodman and Jeffrey Snow

Christine DiCrocco, Communications Specialist at Pryor Cashman, sat down with Life Sciences Partner Stephen Goodman and Patent Partner Jeffrey Snow to discuss the real-world challenges posed by several recent landmark patent decisions, as well as strategies for patent seekers attempting to protect new concepts in the U.S today.

Christine DiCrocco: You both recently hosted a panel for investors and entrepreneurs entitled "Innovation vs. Patentability," where you discussed seminal patent cases like Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International. What are some of the biggest challenges facing patent seekers in the U.S. today?

Jeffrey Snow: One of the biggest challenges is the lack of predictability of the law on the issue of patent subject matter eligibility in both the life sciences field and the area of computer-implemented inventions and software. The case law is demonstrating a shift in judicial decision-making and policy.

Stephen Goodman: A potential investor in early-stage companies commercializing scientific innovation always wants to know who will be competing with the company's innovative products. Where the innovation relates to an algorithm or computerized process on the tech side or a natural biological correlation on the biotech side, U.S. patent law currently creates uncertainty regarding the company's ability to protect these innovations. This uncertainty in turn reduces the value of the company to investors, making it harder for it to raise funds.

CD: Jeff, your focus has primarily been on patent matters in the technical fields. Given the changing tide of patentability, what are some strategies you recommend to clients looking to protect new concepts?

JS: It will be important for patent owners to keep up with legal decisions and the Patent and Trademark Office's guidelines to navigate the changing legal landscape while they continue to pursue patent protection for inventions that are essential to the growth and success of their businesses.

CD: Steve, in light of recent developments in patent law, what are the key takeaways for entrepreneurs who rely on patent and technology licensing to fuel their business models?

SG: I suggest consulting a qualified patent attorney very early in the company's life to get a handle on whether the subject matter of the company's innovation may encounter challenges as to patentability. These challenges may not be insurmountable, but having expert advice on the extent of the issues and potential strategies for overcoming them can increase the likelihood of the company's success.

CD: How do you think Trump's presidency will impact the patent landscape? And what sort of effects do you expect to see on emerging companies and investors?

JS: I expect that the Trump administration, like its predecessors, will recognize the value of the patent system in promoting innovation and economic development. The courts will undoubtedly continue attempting to clarify the law to increase certainty and reliability in the patent system so that entrepreneurs and investors will be confident in pursuing their business endeavors.

SG: There is very little out there on which to judge Trump's likely positions with respect to preserving or changing the patent system. If I had to guess, I think his other legislative priorities will prevent him from taking significant action with respect to patents. Probably more important than patent policy to emerging companies in technology will be the fallout from whatever new immigration policies he pursues, an item that is very high on his agenda.

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